Friday, July 3, 2009
The House At Riverton
This is an incredible book and I am pleased to use it to kick off my book blog.
The House At Riverton by Kate Morton is set in the early 1900s in England. The main character is Grace Reeves, a 14 year old girl who is about to enter into service at the house at Riverton. The Hartford family occupies the estate. As was common in that day, several generations occupy the estate from Emmeline who is 10 to Lord and Lady Ashby who are close to the end of their lives.
It's told from Grace's point of view and bops back and forth from the present (1999) and the early 1900s. At the heart of the story is a suicide at a party at the estate in 1924.
There are lots of twists and turns. The author certainly did her time in research of the time and the descriptions she gives are wonderful to the point you feel as if you are there and a part of the story. There is a wonderfully rich cast of characters, from the family to the servants to the people they come in contact with.
One thing that really struck me is that the servants (most anyhow) were living the life they enjoyed. In that time period people were "conditioned" to become servants. Many would give up a family of their own due to their loyality to the family they served. Many would stay with the family their entire life. I guess it also surprised me that at 14 a girl would leave her family and go into service. I suppose that as a Civil War enthusiast I am more used to the service of slavery which was definitely anything but what those people wanted.
The story covers the period before and after World War One and the differences are beautifully described. From rationing to the difference in what was acceptable for a lady before and after the War to the clothing.
Pick up a copy and lose yourself in England in the 1920s - you won't regret it.